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Growth

Growth

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growth

Doctrine.

Long ago the psalmist wrote about hunger for God in what we now know as Psalm 42, verses 1 and 2: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When may I come to see God’s face?”. The type of desire he describes is the type every one of us should have. It’s not something unusual that is reserved for only a few impassioned souls; the normal state of a Christian is to be thirsty and hungry for God simply put we are called to grow.

Fellowship.

In Acts 2:42 we read that one of the four things the early church devoted itself to was “fellowship.” Fellowship was a very important part of their reason for meeting together. It was one of their objectives. But what is fellowship? We often hear people talking about fellowship. We hear it said that what we need is more fellowship. But our modern ideas of fellowship have become so watered down that the word no longer carries the same meaning it did in New Testament times.  We are not surprised that the early church devoted itself to “the apostles’ teaching” and also “to prayer.” Apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit, these are the two most important means of growth, power, and effectiveness in the Christian life and this is everywhere evident in the rest of Scripture.

But Luke tells us these early Christians also devoted themselves to fellowship. They just didn’t have fellowship; they devoted themselves to it. This means that fellowship was a priority and one of the objectives for gathering together. They made fellowship a priority. Today, however, we often view fellowship as what we do in “fellowship hall.” It’s the place where we have casual conversations and savor coffee and donuts. This is not bad and can contribute to fellowship, but it falls far short of fellowship according to biblical standards and according to the meaning and use of the Greek words for fellowship.Still others who may have become fed up with church seek fellowship through viewing a worship service on television, but this too misses the picture.

Breaking Bread.

Someone recently observed that a key factor for churches in the 21st Century will be Church health, not just Church growth. I believe that when a congregation is healthy, it will grow spiritually and enjoy the benefits of a live, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ. However we as Christians must be careful not to evaluate our spiritual walk based solely on where we attend services. What are the signs that a believer lives a life that is nourished by the Word of God and illuminated by the Holy Spirit?

The Book of Acts 2:42 gives us an answer, it says about the first century believers; “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” This Scripture should grab the attention of the modern day Church and serve as a key guide by which to examine ourselves. Today’s text gives us another look at the early church and gives us a target to aim for. All healthy things show signs of life. If the child of God is not growing spiritually in any or all of these four areas, that Christian is dying. A church will only be as healthy as those who attend there. Therefore, it is a necessity that those who are part of the Body of Christ get a fair evaluation of their spiritual condition.

Prayer.

  In Mere Christianity CS Lewis wrote “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”

As we conclude our look at the early history of the Church, we come to the final thing that these new believers were dedicated to, prayer! Prayer is something that we all believe in strongly, however our prayer lives are often lacking in both practice and passion.  We often fail to stop and realize that communication with our heavenly father is the most valuable asset we possess in this life.  Prayer brings our heart and mind into a proper perspective for God to work in and through us.

Sir George Adam Smith tells how he and his guide were climbing the Weisshorn in the Swiss Alps. It was stormy and they were making their climb on the sheltered side of the peak. When they reached the summit, they were filled with the exhilaration. Sir George forgot about the fierce winds, leaped up and was nearly blown over the edge to the glacier below! The guide grabbed hold of him and exclaimed: “On your knees, sir. You are safe here only on your knees!”